Teacher-trainer divisions widen

March 7, 1997

BIAS against university teacher training providers is evident in the latest Teacher Training Agency funding allocations, the University Council for the Education of Teachers has alleged.

The council claimed that a two-pronged attack on traditional higher education teacher training was taking place. UCET chairman Ian Kane said that Postgraduate Certificate of Education programmes in universities and colleges were out of pocket because of the introduction of inflated fund weighting for the exclusively school-based SCITT programmes.

Old university providers had suffered worse because of the cut in their traditionally higher weighted PGCE programmes to match the bachelor of education programmes that most non-university providers offer.

The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals has also expressed concerns about disproportionate weighting for the fledgling school-training programmes. A TTA spokesman said the fact that the schools programmes were new had to be taken into account.

"But whoever the provider, everyone is subject to the rigorous quality requirements," he said.

The Open University, as the single largest supplier of postgraduate certificates, has faced some of the most significant cuts. But Nigel Pigott, OU teacher training course administrator, said the changes were not unexpected.

"Everyone has faced cuts. Yes, we've lost out a bit, but that is as much to do with the overall cutbacks in student number target figures rather than a bias against universities and PGCE in the methodology," he said.

UCET also attacked an overall 2 per cent cash cut, pointing out that parliamentary questions had revealed that administration costs for the TTA in 1995/96 amounted to Pounds 2.4 million, compared to only Pounds 60,000 when the Higher Education Funding Council for England allocated teacher training funds. A TTA spokesman said that 2 per cent was a reasonable efficiency target.

A university teacher trainer said that universities were being squeezed out of the system. "There's a difference between being pushed out and being slowly allowed to wither on the vine, but not much," she said.

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